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Will the Board of Forestry Finally Act to Manage Jackson Forest for Public Benefit?

June 5, 2007. The long-in-the-making new management alternative for Jackson Forest has been released. The new alternative was developed following a huge public outcry over the previous management alternative preferred by the California Department of Forestry (CDF), the managers of publicly owned Jackson Forest.

The new plan goes a long way toward managing the forest for broad public benefit -- except for one critical defect: the plan allows clearcut variations on 26 percent of the forest and mini-clearcuts (so-called "group selection) on another 15 percent. Clearcutting variations could be applied  2700 acres per decade!

The plan should make single-tree selection the primary timber management method, allowing clearcuts and group selection to be used only when part of specific reviewed and approved research projects or when justified to improve forest health.

The failure of the plan to appropriately restrict clearcutting and its variations ("even-age management") is all the more disappointing because of the responsiveness of CDF and the Board of Forestry to public concerns.

The new alternative contains many positive steps.  Research, restoration, habitat, education, and recreation have become primary values of the forest. It establishes an outside advisory committee to work with CDF to develop a long-range landscape plan and a revised short-term management plan. It restricts harvesting during the interim period during which the new plans are being developed.

In a related development, funds from timber harvests in Jackson have been legislatively restricted to being spent first within Jackson Forest and second in other state forests. The former practice of treating Jackson Forest as a cash cow for statewide forestry programs will not occur.

If the Board of Forestry as a whole will act to appropriately restrict clearcutting and its variations, the new management alternative should garner widespread public support -- but not unless this is done. The good parts of the new plan can't justify needlessly destroying thousands of acres of public redwood forest.

The public's input and help will be critical. The first step is to attend the Board of Forestry meeting at the Town Hall on Main Street in Fort Bragg on Thursday, June 7, beginning at 9:00 a.m. At a later time, the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Forest will assist you to send in your comments. Please stay tuned and informed.